For some people, athlete’s foot is a recurring menace. Mild cases can be cured at home, as long as individuals take a comprehensive approach to treatment — meaning that they treat the feet, the socks, the shoes, and their surroundings. Preventing the return of athlete’s foot means making a number of lifestyle modifications to protect your feet from fungus.
Don’t spread it.
Athlete’s foot is very contagious. People who have it must take care to wash their hands with soap and water after touching the foot fungus. They must also wash out the tub or shower with antiseptic (like Lysol). They must take special care to avoid sharing towels, linens and socks. Flip-flops should be worn in public showers. Socks should be washed twice in extra-hot water to kill off spores.
Keep the feet dry.
Fungus loves moisture and can only grow in a hot, humid, dark environment. Infected patients should take special care to dry the feet, including in between the toes, before putting socks on. If necessary, a hair dryer may be used to ensure complete dryness. Wet socks should be changed as soon as possible, midway through the day if necessary. Wear sandals in the summer. Shoes should be rotated every other day to allow proper time for drying.
Invest in medication.
Athlete’s foot will not just “go away” on its own. Over-the-counter antifungal creams containing tolnaftate (Tinactin), miconazole (Micatin), or undecylenic acid (Desenex) are very effective. Medication should be applied twice daily, after washing the feet. Symptoms should clear up within two to four weeks. Since the fungus can remain present even after symptoms disappear, it’s recommended that patients continue using it for at least three to six weeks to be sure the infection has cleared up.
Treat bacteria with Betadine.
Advanced cases of athlete’s foot that result in cracked skin may be further compounded by a bacterial infection. It helps to soak the feet in two capfuls of Betadine and a quart of warm water for 20 minutes, once a day. After the soak, the feet should be dried and antifungal medication applied.
Avoid strong chemicals.
Home remedies involving bleach, alcohol, floor cleaners, Vaporub or other strong chemicals should be avoided, as they can severely damage tender, sensitive skin.
Choose the right footwear.
Shoes that are made of plastic, rubber or watertight material should be avoided. Dress shoes are notorious for trapping moisture in, whereas running shoes are designed to let heat out and air in. More breathable materials like leather are better. Sandals and open toe shoes are good for keeping the feet dry. When in public locker rooms, showers or around pools, wearing shower shoes or sandals is always recommended.
Wear the right socks.
Natural fibers (like wool) are better with sweat absorption than synthetic socks. Some socks advertise themselves as “moisture-wicking,” which is ideal. One should avoid 100% cotton socks, but may opt for a cotton/acrylic blend.
Treat the shoes.
People with fungus on the feet also have fungus in their shoes. To prevent reinfection, treat the shoes with the SteriShoe UV light sanitizer each night to eliminate up to 99.9% of the harmful microbes within, including any athlete’s foot fungus spores. This device uses the same type of sanitizing light used to disinfect hospital equipment. A shoe sanitizer is an essential part of any comprehensive cure for athlete’s foot.